Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted April 14, 2015
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) new Annual Energy Outlook for 2015 contains a number of stats, charts and projections, but you could boil them down to a couple of important points.
First, oil and natural gas are and will continue to be the foundation of an all-of-the-above energy approach that’s key to continued U.S. economic growth, energy security and overall security. EIA says oil (36 percent) and natural gas (27 percent) supply 63 percent of America’s energy now, and EIA projects they will supply 62 percent in 2040 (oil 33 percent and natural gas 29 percent). This is because oil and natural gas are high in energy content, portable and reliable. They’re the workhorse fuels of the broader economy, making modern living possible as fuels and as the building blocks for a number of products Americans depend on every day. America is and will be dependent on a variety of energies, but oil and natural gas are and will play leading roles.
The great news is the U.S. is in the midst of a revolution in domestic oil and natural gas production, leading to a second big takeaway from EIA’s report – that domestic output is and will continue to reduce U.S. dependence on imported energy.
Posted March 20, 2015
More unhelpful talk from the administration directed at America’s energy industry – strange, given the key role played by the oil and natural gas industry in the nation’s recovery from recession, in reducing oil imports, in making the U.S. more secure in the world and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, all on the current administration’s watch.
It’s not that some in the administration haven’t noticed these positives. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell at CSIS this week:
“… it’s no coincidence that our economic recovery has been accompanied by the biggest energy transformation of our lifetimes. The energy revolution we experienced in these last six years helped spur the recovery, but it’s also been accelerated by the policies our country put in place. Since 2008, American oil production has surged, from 5 million to 9 million barrels a day. And our dependence on foreign oil has fallen to its lowest level in more than 30 years. … These shifts in U.S. energy markets aren’t marginal or temporary. They are tectonic shifts …”
... Yet, in a recent interview President Obama talked about energy companies and climate change in adversarial, unproductive tones – echoing other administration messaging lately that borrows from the activist community. Like that messaging, these recent remarks are divorced from reality.
Posted March 13, 2015
The language of issue activism can have drawbacks. Sound bites charged with political activism seldom set the stage for useful policy discussions.
Similarly, in a climate change speech at the Atlantic Council this week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry mischaracterized America’s energy reality, calling U.S. oil and coal “outdated energy sources.” Said Kerry, “Coal and oil are only cheap ways to power a nation in the very near term.”
Not according to those who get paid to quantify U.S. energy, now and in the future. In its 2014 Annual Energy Outlook report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that oil and natural gas supplied 63 percent of U.S. energy in 2012, with coal supplying another 18 percent. EIA projects that oil and natural gas will supply 61 percent of our energy in 2040, with coal holding steady at 18 percent.
Posted March 9, 2015
Apparently not content with the four Pinocchios he recently earned from the Washington Post for statements on the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama last week put in a bid for five with remarks aimed at the project’s environmental impact.
At an appearance in South Carolina, the president termed “extraordinarily dirty” the methods used to develop Canadian oil sands:
“The reason that a lot of environmentalists are concerned about it is the way that you get the oil out in Canada is an extraordinarily dirty way of extracting oil, and obviously there are always risks in piping a lot of oil through Nebraska farmland and other parts of the country.”
First, after more than six years of review by his administration, the president really should take the time to read the U.S. State Department’s environmental review of Keystone XL – the latest of five that all have cleared the pipeline on environmental grounds. As well, energy consulting firm IHS found that Keystone XL and the oil sands it would deliver would have “no material impact” on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Posted March 7, 2015
The politics of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use are on display this weekend in Iowa, a key presidential primary state. Nothing against Iowa – or ethanol, for that matter – but the RFS illustrates that when you mix energy policy and politics bad public policy can result.
Certainly, the RFS shows the difficulty of trying to apply central planning to the marketplace, of trying to mandate consumer behavior. The RFS is a relic of the era of energy scarcity in the U.S. whose best intentions have been superseded by surging domestic oil and natural gas production.
Still, the RFS remains and along with it potential risks to the economy, vehicle engines and more. It also risks unintended consequences, including a moral/ethical dilemma over whether food should be turned into fuels, as well as concern for the environmental impact of corn ethanol production.
Posted February 27, 2015
President Obama, in an interview with a North Dakota television station, explaining why he continues to delay the Keystone XL pipeline:
“Part of the reason North Dakota has done so well is because we've very much been promoting domestic U.S. energy use. I've already said I'm happy to look at increasing pipeline production for U.S. oil. But Keystone is for Canadian oil. Sending it down to the Gulf. It bypasses the U.S., it estimated to create 250, maybe, 300 permanent jobs. We should be focusing on American infrastructure for American jobs for American producers, and that's something we very much support.”
In the span of just six sentences, the president contradicts expert analysis of Keystone XL’s jobs and market impacts at least four times – about once for each breath.
Posted February 13, 2015
Posted February 10, 2015
Standout findings in a new major field study on methane emissions from natural gas collection and processing facilities across 13 states, led by Colorado State University include a couple of points:
First, of 130 facilities that collect natural gas from production wells, remove impurities and deliver it to inter- and intrastate pipeline networks, 101 had methane loss rates below 1 percent – including 85 of the 114 gathering facilities and all 16 of the processing plants studied. Put another way, methane containment at these facilities is more than 99 percent.
Second, the majority of emissions resulted from abnormalities involving broken or faulty equipment – issues that are relatively easy to address.
Posted February 3, 2015
After more than six years of delaying, blocking, sidetracking and goalpost-shifting on the Keystone XL pipeline, the White House clearly knows something about political football – specifically, using all of the above to keep Keystone XL on the drawing board and out of the ground.
It’s not a game to the American workers who’ve seen coveted jobs delayed, nor is it fun for the entire country, in terms of blocked economic stimulus and sidetracked energy security.
Now EPA is tagging in with an out-of-left-field assessment of the State Department’s final environmental review. We say that because State’s environmental report was completed a year ago – making five reviews that all basically said Keystone XL would not significantly impact the environment, climate or otherwise.
While other involved federal agencies recently weighed in on the pipeline’s importance to U.S. national interests, EPA – at the 13th hour – says current crude oil prices make it important to “revisit” State’s environmental conclusions.
Unfortunately, for an administration that has practically made a badge of honor out of stiff-arming Keystone XL – in the face of bipartisan congressional support and the broad favor of the American people – EPA is simply providing another excuse for the White House to continue doing nothing.
Posted January 29, 2015